Chapter 107: The Carpenter

Seat thyself sultanically among the moons of Saturn, and take high abstracted man alone; and he seems a wonder, a grandeur, and a woe. But from the same point, take mankind in mass, and for the most part, they seem a mob of unnecessary duplicates, both contemporary and hereditary.

In “The Carpenter,” Ishmael examines the duality of mankind as consumers. On one hand, humans think of themselves as individuals with thoughts and actions as varying as snowflakes. On the other hand, humans are identical in that they are largely driven by the fulfillment of needs and wants. As a result, men become defined by their consumption — both as individuals (what they want), and as a species (merely the fact that they want).

Ishmael finds a telling byproduct of this aspect of mankind in the ship’s carpenter, a jack of all trades who exists solely to fill those individualistic wants all other men seek to satisfy — from the practical bird cage to the absurd and frivolous decoration of oars. In the man who exists solely to give men what they lack, we end up seeing what men truly lack — an indifference to the material world, and a transcendence of desire.

The carpenter is a man apart. He has seen in volume the essence of man, and he has seen what a shallow essence it truly is. And in so seeing, the carpenter has freed himself to become his own person.

Chapter 107: The Carpenter

You take a man alone
And he’s an island of soul,
You take them all at once
And what’s the difference?

Well, every man alive
Thinks he’s an island of soul,
But every man alive
Is just a duplicate:

One wants an ear drilled,
One wants a bird cage,
Stubb wants stars on every oar!

But this equation of man
Comes out to negative one,
And it’s The Carpenter’s soul
That makes the difference:

Come for an ear drilled,
Come for a bird cage,
He’ll paint stars on every oar!

He’s the difference,
He’s the difference.

Well he’s a man at odds,
He’s every interest,
And as he fills the needs
He stands indifferent.

There’s not a man alive
Who stands indifferent,
But he’s a man we prize
To be indifferent.

Come for an ear drilled,
Come for a bird cage,
He’ll paint stars on every oar!

He’s indifferent,
He’s indifferent.

(c) and (p) 2010 Patrick Shea
Words and music written by Patrick Shea July 15, 2010
All parts performed, arranged, and recorded by Patrick Shea December 11, 2010

Published in: on February 6, 2011 at 10:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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